Dude

By Charles Etheridge-Nunn

This isn’t how a coffee shop toilet should be.

There are blood drops on the floor, a pen from a bookies rests on the window, odd symbols in permanent marker on the walls, and… is that Latin?

Yet, I’m drawn back to the blood. I look closer, it’s a few inches down from the rusted lock. The handle suddenly snaps down. There’s someone on the other side. I can’t hear them, just the slam of the handle, up and down. Thank God for the lock, rusty or not.

“Dude,” I say. “Dude, I’m busy.”

There’s no response, but the handle stops dead. Good. Whoever that was made me jump.

I calm down. How’s a man supposed to crap in a place like this? I mean, you expect pub toilets to be a wreck, but this?
The handle turns again and again.

“I’m still in here!” He’s left me for ten seconds, he has to know I’m here. “Calm down, I’ll be done soon.”

The handle keeps going.

Is it someone after me? I don’t remember annoying anyone to the point of bothering to attack me.

Is it just some random drunk? Again, no, not a pub toilet, despite the graffiti.

The handle’s been banging for longer than it hasn’t. What about a monster? I don’t believe in monsters, but I’ve not met one so what do I know?

“Dude, what’s your deal?” I ask.

I doubt a monster, murderer, or drunk, would answer honestly, but I have to try.

I’ve given up on using the toilet, I just want to get out of here. The window, like the gambler’s pen, is too small. I’ll never fit through it. The window, not the pen. Well, both.

It could be someone with their headphones on. The coffee shop’s music was so bad, most people had to listen to iPods or whatever.

I stand up, pull my trousers up, tighten my belt and grab the pen. It’s small enough, I slide it through the crack at the bottom of the door. The rattling stops.

I turn the lock, shove the door open and run without looking back.

Goodbye murderer, monster, man with headphones on or mysterious empty bathroom. I don’t look back until I’m down the stairs and out of the shop.

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One Response to Dude

  1. Sue Nunn says:

    Brilliant! What was is rattling the handle?! Dammit now I shall think about it all day….

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